Underestimated all season, Seton Hall’s NCAA fate is fitting

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SOUTH ORANGE – In a weird way, Seton Hall’s apparent hosing by the NCAA selection committee fits right into this season’s plot.

Seeded sixth in the Denver pod after being a projected seven-seed prior to beating a pair of two-seeds in Xavier and Villanova this week, the Hall will clash with the second consecutive mid-major powerhouse in Gonzaga on Thursday night at 9:57 et; the Pirates took on Wichita State in the first round back in 2006.

The Pirates have surpassed every expectation that has been thrown at them this season, whether it be the pre-season rankings, post-season chances, or Big East Tournament odds, so it makes sense that they got handed the short end of stick on Selection Sunday.

“I’m excited,” said Kevin Willard while penned in by a deep crowd of media at Walsh Gym. “ I thought maybe we could have gotten a little bit of a lower seed considering we just beat the No. 3 team [Villanova] the No. 5 team [Xavier] and the No. 5 team [Xavier on Senior Day] and we’re playing really well.

“But a six-seed is great at the beginning of the year, so we’ll take it. We’ve got a big challenge with Gonzaga, but just being in it gives you a chance.”

Many people are considering Seton Hall’s pairing with the Bulldogs to be a major slight by the committee considering where they were being projected going into the Big East Tournament and the fact that just two KenPom spots separate the Hall from the WCC champs.

The seeding begs the question of whether the committee has even watched what the Pirates have done of late.

“I would probably say they didn’t, based on where we are [seeded],” said Isaiah Whitehead. “But as long as we’re there and we have a chance to compete in this famous tournament, it’s a blessing.”

Whitehead, as you’ll remember, was critical of where Seton Hall was being projected weeks ago, so tonight’s outcome will surely only fuel the motivational fire.

Besides the seemingly low-ball seed, Seton Hall also had to wait 10 years plus the entire two-hour nightmare of a selection show just to see their name announced.

“I’ve waited 10 years for this, so I can wait a little bit longer,” joked an ecstatic assistant coach and former Pirate center Grant Billmeier during the early part of the selection show.

“I was talking to Khadeen [Carrington] and said ‘Wow, imagine if we didn’t win yesterday?’” added Whitehead. “That would have been really really nerve-racking waiting this long.”

“It wasn’t as bad because I knew we were in,” said Willard. “If we hadn’t been in, it would have been agony. My heart was popping. It’s exciting. The kids are excited, the fan base is excited and that’s what it’s all about.”

The bracket took so long to get released that the players even got word of who they were playing well ahead of the live announcement; all were on their phones checking if it was true.

“Actually when Iowa State was called one of our managers told us it was leaked and who we were playing,” recalled Whitehead. “So that’s why we were kind of on the edge of our seats, we knew it was coming.”

For Seton Hall, the focus now turns to Thursday night in Denver

“They’re tremendous offensively, they pass the ball [well], unselfish,” said Willard of Mark Few’s team. “I watched them earlier in the year, they’re a terrific basketball team so it’s going to be a great challenge.”

And also get some rest after an unforgettable 72-plus hours.

“I have not [slept],” said Willard. “I’m not going to lie, I haven’t slept since uhh — today’s Sunday. We beat Xavier… so since Thursday.”

  • Peter

    I agree that Seton Hall was hosed, but I really don’t think this team cares who they are playing. They feel capable of beating anyone. SHU is like the Honey Badger…they don’t give a s-t!

    • Louie Dee

      This is hilarious!! And you are totally right.
      Winners want to play the best.
      I was a little upset by our seed and location but I’m over it now. Bring on the best!

  • ward smith

    Zag fan here. We wish you’d been seeded higher too if that’s any consolation ?

    • Hallbuster

      thanks. Got to love when your opponents team’s fans knows more about u then the selection committee. Good luck mr zag, ur going to need it. We hungry

    • Was thinking this on way home from campus. Seton Hall fans are upset, but it goes both ways. Gonzaga fans can’t be happy with a draw against an under-seeded school

      • Hallbuster

        Good point

      • Matty P

        I was listening to the radio and this is pretty much the point that Calipari made. It ends up hurting the team with the higher seed since the team that was expected to get a lower seed didn’t get the expected seed from the committee.

  • Hallbuster

    Chris what was the lowest seeding in the ncaa tournament that the winner of the Big East tournament has gotten?? I’m going to hazard to guess that a 6 seed is among the lowest ever. Total slap in the face but I love it. And so happy whitehead and his band of brothers knows it too. Wipe the court with Gonzaga. Play every game with a chip on ur shoulder.

    • Providence was an 11-seed in 2013-14. I’d imagine that has to be the highest.

    • Joe Schmoe

      In ’11 uconn was a 9 seed in the BET, won 5 in 5 nights, came into the NCAAs tournament a 3 seed I believe. Won the whole thing.

      • Hallbuster

        I remember that. That’s my point. Hall got no credit for what they just did in the BE tournament. Almost like these brackets were done on Friday morning before we beat Xavier and then nova. We got the lowest 6th seed. That’s gross. Considering before the tourney most had us pegged for a 7.

  • Hallbuster

    anyone going to make the trip?

  • Joe J

    Doug Gotleib, the same expert genius who picked Seton Hall to finish 9th in the Big East this season, is picking Gonzaga to win. That’s great news for the Pirates.

    • Hallbuster

      What’s the guys deal? Does he know how bad he is at his job ?

      • Coach Mike

        Is he a weatherman?

  • PadrePirate

    I think all this will work in our favor. Even though I expected a 4 or 5 after beating X and Nova, this should add extra motivation to our guys.

    Personally don’t see why Zag is drew an 11 seed, if they’re top 30 ken pom

  • Seton Hall open as 2-point underdogs

  • Matty P

    Going by the statistics it appears that Gonzaga uses a 6 man rotation similar to SHU. Wiltjer and Sabones drive the offense for them with Wiltjer extending out to the 3 point line and shooting at a high percentage for a 6-10 forward (42.4%) and Sabones being a strong rebounding and post presence down low. Beyond that it appears that McClellan would be the next biggest scoring threat, but has been inconsistent (either going for less than 10 pts or over 15 pts). The teams seem to have the exact opposite strengths (SHUs being their back court and Gonzaga’s being their front court).

    Btw 3 games I would look at closely if I were SHU would be the first 2 St Mary’s games and the SMU game. All 3 were Gonzaga losses with Wiltjer scoring an average of 7.8 ppg while playing an average of 37 mpg.

    • Havent seen much of them at all. 335th in bench minutes while SHU is 301st.

      Spokane, Wa is about 1800 feet elevation. Denver is mid 5000s. I don’t know enough to tell if that’s a significant advantage for Gonzaga.

      How will Ish/Angel do against two 6-10 guys? Will need Whitehead/Carrington to draw fouls.

      • Matty P

        I was trying to think of the closest comparison to the body type that Wiltjer has to someone in the Big East and the only one I can come up with is Ellenson (both 6-10 and 240 lbs). Similarly I think one of the comparisons for Sabones could be Fischer (both 6-11 and 240 lbs). While SHU was able to hold both of them mostly in check the stats show that Wiltjer is a much better 3 point threat then Ellenson which will make him much more dynamic.

        • Fishjam

          Matty, I mentioned the same comparisons. Wiljter is a good shooter who knows how to find openings but he isn’t nearly as athletic as Ellenson. Wiljter is slow-footed and a major liability defensively. Sabones on the other hand is very similar to Fischer. He has Fischer’s size but his game reminds me of Butler’s Charabcz a little. Sabones is also a pretty nifty passer for a big and is good at finsing slashing guards. He’ll be a tough matchup for Angel while Ish should eat Wiljter up on the glass.

          • Matty P

            The fact that Wiljter is less athletic should definitely help if they can get some mismatches on offense and should make him a little easier to defend. The interesting thing with his shot from some videos I’ve seen is that he has little to no lift, probably because he’s 6-11. But I would be interested to see if someone like Sanogo will give him some trouble and possibly get a block or 2 since he’s a long athletic 6-8.

      • Matty P

        Concerning the elevation, I noticed that kenpom says Gonzaga’s adjusted tempo was 223. Based on this I would assume if they dictated the pace the elevation wouldn’t have much of an effect. If SHU can dictate the pace then elevation could definitely be a factor since they will probably try and push the tempo more like they’ve done in the Big East tournament.

      • Jeremie Lipton

        I grew up in Spokane and run marathons. There is zero elevation-adjusted cardiovascular benefit until you get to about 4,500 ft. No advantage.

        • hallstorm

          You’re right Jeremie. My cousins have lived out in Spokane for 35 years (and some have gone to Gonzaga, so this will be a family battle!!) and the elevation impact won’t matter a bit. I love how dry it is out in Spokane, though. I’ve been several times (and I’ve had to attend Gonzaga games too!).

          This is a very interesting game and both teams were clearly mis-seeded. I have a hard time seeing Iowa State as a 4 and Notre Dame a 6 (in Brooklyn) as I’m sure Bulldog fans chuckle when they see Syracuse as a 10 and Texas Tech as a 9. Very sad that our home state Monmouth was denied an invitation too as they are simply a better teams than both Syracuse and Texas Tech.

          • Jeremie Lipton

            Sounds like a fun family rivalry. Enjoy the game!

  • Matty P

    I’m glad to see that someone out there outside of the pirates circle thought they got screwed (bleacher report: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2624415-march-madness-2016-who-got-screwed-in-the-ncaa-bracket/page/4). The last 2 paragraphs sum it up:

    Considering I had Gonzaga projected for a No. 9 seed, Utah as a No. 2 seed and Michigan State as a No. 1 seed, that might be the most absurdly difficult draw for a No. 6 seed in bracket history.

    In every way, shape and form, the Pirates deserved better. But it will just make the Isaiah Whitehead-fueled run to a national championship that much sweeter.

    • Hallbuster

      Awesome article. Someone tweet that link to whitehead. Makes sure he sees that.

  • SHULaw05

    Pirates have been disrespected all year and it has only served as motivation for this tough group of outstanding young men. With that being said, it is very difficult to have any faith in the selection process and the committee in general. Seeing Syracuse in the tournament is absolutely pathetic. Committee lost all credibility moving forward due to the inclusion of Cuse. It sends the wrong message to teams that were clearly more deserving of a spot in the field. A lot of snubs for the bubble squads that have far more of a gripe than the Hall does. Castiglione’s comments on the show indicate to me that the selection process is truly flawed and imperfect (I know we were already aware of this). Sorry Monmouth but Syracuse and Vandy are just more palatable to the general public and money really is at the root of this process. However, sending us out to Colorado as a 6 seed to play a true 8 seed is ridiculous. If we play our game that we are capable of then everything will fall into place. Is Gonzaga better than Xavier, Providence, or Villanova? Absolutely not. The Hall can handle Gonzaga.

    Something I noticed during our Big East Championship run that will be crucial in our opening game: Angel gave up a number of lay-ups by smartly putting the hands straight up and not attempting to swipe BUT in these instances the benefit of Delgado staying on the floor and not getting into foul trouble far outweighed giving up the easy buckets. His presence is extremely vital regardless of his offensive point production. Earlier in the season, Angel would go for the block/strip and it would lead to long periods on the bench. He has very much matured in many regards, especially in what I have described.

    If we play “our” game and stay the course with the strategy that has gotten us to this point, then we will win. Hoping that Ish is feeling better. Team should get out to CO asap and get comfortable with their surroundings. Hall is going deep! Gordon and Ish are going to bring it on the defensive end! Desi, Isaiah and Khadeen will bring the offensive firepower. IW can take control of this game, since Gonzaga seems to be lacking in the guard positions. We are finally dancing and I apologize for the “glass is half empty” theme to my post. There is a lot to be grateful for with our Pirates sailing into March Madness. Go Hall!

    • Hallbuster

      Well said

      • VinBick

        And everyone here knows you are a lawyer, so taking 100 words to say what can be said in 25 is excusable, Law05. We love your commentary.

        This team is on a mission; they are a big powerful train roaring full speed down the tracks heading for a good destination.

        How about an alumni and fan meet up Thursday night in Toms River to watch the game? The Water Street just off of Water Street on the north side of the River Toms is a neat spot. It is five minutes off of Exit 81 of the Parkway. Advise if interested and I will call the folks at Water Street to warn them of our arrival in Pirate Blue. The place used to be called the “Lobster Shanty” so our Rock Lobsters may want to join us!

        • PadrePirate

          Toms river is quite a hike from Orange, but I’d go. What’s the tip off time?

          • VinBick

            Padre, Hoboken is much closer to you. Check the post about the meet up there. Here it is: at House of Que in Hoboken starting at 9pm on Thurs. Food and drink specials: $3 16oz PBRs, $2 Coors Light Draft, $4 select wines, $5 Fireball shots, $6 specialty cocktails, smoked wings and nacho platters and the audio will be on throughout the restaurant.

            Great town, Hoboken, was born there at St Mary Hospital in March of 1944. Do not know if the hospital still stands. There was a park across the street where scenes of “On The Waterfront” were shot.

        • SHULaw05

          Spot on, Vin. It is always a struggle attempting to truncate my posts. Likewise, I always enjoy your commentary and enthusiasm for the program. I would attend an alumni gathering to watch the game in a heartbeat, however, the travel from PA just isn’t realistic for me that late on Thursday night. I hope some of our fellow posters that are in your vicinity are coordinating with you for the game.

          Most exciting day in a long time to be a Pirate is upon us and I hope we all savor what will hopefully be a magical run in the tournament. Quite envious of Chris and the Lobsters being out in Denver for Thursday. Certainly looking forward to the updates that I’m sure will be posted shortly from the team’s location. Go Pirates!

          • VinBick

            Law, if you are out on the Mainline you can set up a gathering of Hall alum and invite the “Nova nation to join in cheering for the Hall!

            Check out Philly.com and check out the reaction to us beating Nova for the BE Championship. Some want Jay Wright fired! The worst fans in the world label is fitting for most Philly folks.

            Talked to lots of “bandwagon” Hall fans at the Garden last week. As long as they come onboard, welcome all!

          • SHULaw05

            Any Nova faction calling for Wright’s firing is truly deserving of the worst fans in the world label. Pirate Nation welcomes any and all! I recently read that Hall merchandise sales are in the top 5 of all collegiate schools this week on Fanatics.com.

  • Joe Schmoe

    This morning on Boomer and Carton, boomer really wanted to talk seton hall, but carton wasn’t having it. He kept cutting him off and steered the convo to the uconn/cincy game instead.

    • Matty P

      This kinda stuff is the reason I stopped listening to them a while back. I’m sorry Carton but that game happened on Friday and it’s old news by now. If you want to have a 15 min discussion towards the beginning of the show then go for it, but when something happens on a Friday and you don’t do shows on the weekend you miss your chance to have a serious discussion about the game.

    • shu_92

      Carton also went on a rant saying climate change is a myth perpetuated by scientists in lab coats the other day. Don’t remember how it came up, but not the sharpest tool in the shed.

  • shu_92

    Hall wins by 10+. ‘Zaga doesn’t have a single guard that is better than Derrick Gordon, let alone Isaiah or Khadeen. Sabonis is the only threatening inside presence (wiltjer is a really tall and slow small forward) and I’m not buying into the frontcourt hype when they only have 2 D-1 players at the position.

  • Matty P

    For anyone interested in seeing some of Gonzaga here’s the youtube channel for their men’s basketball team that has game highlights. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL663E824A2BCA96C5

    • LBP

      Matty P -HBO on demand has the Gonzaga Team series

      • Matty P

        I’ll have to try and take a look. It would be nice to get a better idea of Gonzaga prior to the game on Thursday.

  • Andrew Herbst

    I did some research on Gonzaga’s schedule. They’ve had 16 wins against teams with an RPI of 200 or higher. I think that could work to our advantage. They haven’t faced teams with a d as tough as ours.

  • Mosleyman

    So much depends on the officials. History would tell us that non-Big East officials tend to greet aggressive defense with a symphony of whistles. I think we can defend these guys, especially Sanogo on Wiltjer. But we’re not deep enough to survive bad foul trouble.

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      Agreed, but on the other hand, our guards could put them in serious foul trouble too. It doesn’t sound like Sabonis is all that quick, and can be prone to foul trouble. If the Zags’ guards can’t keep the Pirates from attacking the rim, a few quick fouls on Sabonis could be the difference in the game. Rutgers was quite the opposite, where their athletic bigs kept blocking shot after shot. I don’t get the sense the Zags’ big men have that ability. I’m wondering, though, if this Zags team is a bit like Butler, with a slow-tempo, half-court offense and few turnovers. I hope not.

      • Jeremie Lipton

        Sabonis not quick – eh, depends on what you mean. He’s not quick off the floor and doesn’t have explosive jumping ability. That is probably why he’s not a real shot blocker. I think that’s what you’re getting after. If so, that’s true. Wiltjer is the opposite of quick. Love the guy, but not blessed with lateral movement. He makes up for it with his insanely sweet outside shot. Put a big athletic defender on him and it can often spell trouble for us. Our half-court offense is not exactly methodical. It’s an inside-out game. We dump it in, if you don’t double, Sabonis goes to work and he is tough to stop. If you do double, we move the ball to an open three point shooter and, less often, to a slashing guard. We don’t work fast in the half-court, but we’re also not surgical.

        • hallstorm

          I’m very concerned about your ability to knock down outside shots consistency. Few has a real game plan no matter who he plays against. This game will be a real battle.

          That being said, you guys have 3 more 6’10” guys coming in next year and you have a helluva recruiting class again. I’m not sure if Sabonis or Wiltjer will come back next year, but if they do you guys will be really dangerous for the next couple of years

          • Jeremie Lipton

            We do not have the automatic outside shooters we are used to having, but they can all hit them…at times. We have had games where they were all on and it was a thing of beauty. Wiltjer is usually automatic from deep, the rest are better than average shooters. We are very excited about the future with three red shirt transfers joining a strong recruiting class. Wiltjer is a senior and gone for sure. Of course, we’d love to have Sabonis back and some people think he could use another year of development, depending on who you ask. His stock is pretty high though.

            Good luck to you guys…hope it’s a great game!

    • “But we’re not deep enough to survive bad foul trouble.”

      Depends what your definition of bad is. They faced some notable foul trouble at MSG

      • Mosleyman

        Chris, I’ll define “bad” in two different ways. For the frontcourt, if whistle-happy officials take our best defenders (i.e. Ish and Angel) out of their game (or out of the game entirely), the drop-off to the subs will hurt more because of the strength of Gonzaga’s front line. We’ll have the bodies there to buy some minutes, but we might be hurt worse than in the Big East Tournament. But it will be even worse if our guards are over-officiated. With effectively only three guards with different skills, all crucial to our success, losing any of them will be devastating. Guess Desi would have to move to the backcourt, but then we are scrambling.

        • hallstorm

          I actually don’t think this is as big a deal as you think. We handled Marquette pretty easily and their two big men (Ellenson and Fisher), as a tandem, are one of the best in the nation. I think it just has to be accepted that we will be whistled for more fouls than our opposition. I’ve gotten used to it (although during games, I’m not so complacent).

          I’m not saying to underestimate Gonzaga: 3-point shooting always concerns me (Creighton, Butler, etc). But I just don’t want to adjust our game from what got us. here

  • VinBick

    Let’s not tell the Zags that the Coaches’ Poll has the Hall at # 21 this week.

  • fouline

    Happy/Sad about the selection. Happy that we’re playing. Sad that the NCAA is playing with us. They seem to set us up to fail. Between the altitude and Gonzaga, they’ve made it very tough. But one thing about this team ,is that we’ve proven we’re a lot tougher than bball touts give us credit for. So we’ll see. We’ve upset the experts so far. And we’ll do it again on Thursday!

  • Matty P

    It’s disappointing to see someone like Jon Rothstein answer a callers question on WFAN this afternoon saying that Seton Hall fans should just be happy that their in the tournament and to enjoy it. He’s also had a number of his tweets have been similar. I realize it’s been 10 years, but why should we be happy with just making the tournament? That kind of thinking brings mediocrity to the program which is not the direction any of us want to be heading. This is a team that has been playing well enough to get into the second weekend and has the talent to do it for years to come and become a force in the Big East similar to a Villanova or Xavier.

    • Joe Schmoe

      People are looking at past history. Seton Hall was a powerhouse in the late eighties early 90s with carlisimo. PJ left for more $. Seton hall let him walk. Amaker rebuilt the team to a potential powerhouse in the early 2000s, and left for more $. Seton Hall let him walk. Seton Hall continued the “diamond in the rough” search, and went with Willard. Willard restored the program with its first real accolades since the PJ years. Willard makes $1.5 million annually. At least he did in 2013. This year im sure he’ll secure a nice bonus. Whether Seton Hall remains a conference powerhouse vying for championships and final four appearences, is totally up to the Hall’s administration. Will Willard bounce with the next higher-paying job offer? Will Seton Hall let him walk? Can they keep the team together? Thats the sentiment to the “enjoy it while it lasts” attitude.

  • Louie Dee

    If SHU wears the glory days uniform Gonzaga’s going home in the first round. Heard it hear first!

  • Joe Schmoe

    FInally a ranking! that was hard earned this season!

    • Hallbuster

      Way too low and way too hard to get but that’s been the story. Now let’s kick butt in the tournament and prove the rest of these nay Sayers wrong. Take us to the promise land Isaiah!

      • Joe Schmoe

        I agree they are still underrated. This team will be a beast next year if it stays together. Fingers crossed.

  • Matty P

    For anyone interested there’s going to be a game watch at House of Que in Hoboken starting at 9pm on Thurs. Food and drink specials: $3 16oz PBRs, $2 Coors Light Draft, $4 select wines, $5 Fireball shots, $6 specialty cocktails, smoked wings and nacho platters and the audio will be on throughout the restaurant.

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    FYI, Francessa likes Seton Hall in match-ups against both Gonzaga and Utah. Thinks their guards will give both teams fits.

    • Andrew Herbst

      Thanks Wilpons. That’s great 2 know.

  • LBP

    Off to the Bahamas Atlantis Sport book for annual first two rounds of Tournie and am more than happy that Hall’s a 2 point dog- I was willing to lay 8 but what do i know?? So happy my trip will be paid for — oops, already paid for by the 9-1 I got to win Big East; the 4 I got for Creighton; the 7 I got for Xavier (twice); and the 8 given from Nova. Odds makers have been berry berry good to me.:-)

    • Not sure if you saw my tweet, but 23-9 ATS this year (best in nation)

      • LBP

        thx Chris but I don’t want anyone to figure that out until my money is down-Have a great trip and enjoy the moment

  • LBP

    Hall number 20 in A.P and 21 in USA Coaches Poll ( last of regular season)- guess thats reason they got worse 6th seed :-0

    • hallstorm

      I noticed this too LBP. The committee apparently made all decisions before the weekend, which doesn’t make any sense to me. Us, Kentucky, Michigan State, etc-it seemed to not matter if they won their conference tournament or not. And then teams like Virginia, Iowa State and (even more egregiously) Syracuse and Texas Tech had their respective seeds already wrapped up regardless of their conference outcome.

  • Jeremie Lipton

    Hey SH Community…

    Long time Gonzaga fan here. Just visiting to see what you all have to say about the matchup. I think you guys did get a low seed and I think Gonzaga is a tough 11 seed. That said, you guys have what has long been Kryptonite for our team – an athletic team that plays aggressive D, including shot blockers. We are more athletic than in year’s past, but our PG is young. He’s also, IMO, not athletic on the level of your guys. Traditionally, Gonzaga is very good at moving/sharing the ball. But, in year’s past that has always been combined with one or two guys that are playmakers and that could create their own shot. We struggled with ball movement most of the season, but it was a ton better toward the end of the year. But, that was not against super athletic teams. Wiltjer’s shot is absolutely money. So, if left open it is a rare miss. Against A&M he had a long athletic defender on him and it mostly took him out of the game. Perkins can be really solid, but is prone to turnovers. He can be a streaky 3 pt shooter, but doesn’t shoot it a lot. Melson has a smooth stroke, but can disappear at times. None of our guards are elite at getting to the rim. Dranginis is our glue guy. When others are struggling, he has the cajones to mix it up and can often swing the momentum back in our direction. He’s deceptively athletic and is not afraid to mix it up. He too can shoot the ball. McClellan was seriously “on” in our conference tourney and provides a nice outside threat if that continues. He has a lightning quick first step and likes to drive. He does not finish at an elite level, but his FT shooting has been phenomenal of late. Sabonis a BEAST. He is very creative and a fierce competitor. He has a motor that won’t quit and a good nose for rebounds. He’s very good at the line and has great interior post moves. He’s even been showing the 3 ball lately and will gladly hit a mid-range jumper if his defender backs off.

    I think this game is going to boil down to how we handle your team’s aggressive D. If our bigs are double/triple teamed and don’t do a good job of moving the ball back out to the perimeter, we could be in for a long night. Same is true if we do, but our shooting is off. We can be prone to turnovers and I can see from everything I’ve read that would play right into SHs hand. We rebound pretty well, but I’ve noticed a slight decline in offensive boards lately and I think that is because we’ve had to tone down the aggression because we are not deep, at all. Foul trouble would be a big problem for us.

    We do not have shot blockers. Sabonis can block shots, but it’s not his primary instinct and we need him to stay out of foul trouble. So I would expect your guards to find it easier than the Big East to get to the hole. That worries me in this one.

    I love my Zags, but if I would give you guys then nod on this one.

    I hope I am wrong, but to be totally honest, we just started coming together at the end of the season and I’m just happy we’re in the dance.

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      Great insight, JL. Welcome. Interesting stat, Gonzaga and SHU are both very good at defending the perimeter. In 33 games, GU is 5th in the country in allowing only 198/666 attempts for a 29.7% rate, but SHU is not that far behind at 38th allowing 206/652 for 31.6%. Looks like both teams will have to count on points in the paint, though they do it in very different ways. Should be interesting…

      • Jeremie Lipton

        That is interesting. The lawyer in me (saw earlier post about long-winded lawyers and got a chuckle after looking at my post – Ha!) wants to analyze that further based on the 3pt % of our conference opponents. But, I wasn’t able to find any database. The WCC has some teams that can really light it up from deep (St. Mary’s, BYU, and Portland), but I know Butler and Creighton can do the same. Leads me to agree with your conclusion.

    • Tremendous insight. Thank you for sharing.

      Two Gonzaga fans have now posted on the site in 24 hours; no other non-Seton Hall fan has done that. Cheers!

      • VinBick

        No, no, Chris. I posted twice today…..now this is a third one. These are the best of times to be Pirate fans. Enjoy, everyone.

  • PadrePirate

    Anyone know where I can watch a recording of the BET final game?

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    The thing about the Hall’s schedule that really annoys me is that they scheduled an East Coast team for the late game on Thursday night, when UT and Fresno play the game before at 5:30 local time. If they just switched those two game times, then both games would be primetime in their respective markets. That makes more sense.

    • Matty P

      My guess for the reasoning behind them not switching the times of the games is because they need to give the 3 seed the earlier game since they are the higher seed. Besides the seeding it makes much more sense to switch the times of the games.

  • Elvin Ciego

    I posted under a different post, but just wanted to link to Nate Silver’s informative article. He says Gonzaga is a six seed masquerading as an eleven seed:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/making-sense-of-an-ncaa-tournament-bracket-that-makes-no-sense/

  • Matty P

    I saw on twitter that the team landed out in Denver late last night. Nice to see the team is there to get in a couple practices and get adjusted to the altitude prior to the game on Thurs.

  • Hallbuster
    • SHULaw05

      Great article. Thanks for posting the link, Hallbuster.

  • fouline

    Very smart move for the team to be in Denver already. Our game is based on speed and quickness. It needs oxygen. They need to adjust. So many teams just fly into high altitude cities and play. Not good. Exhaustion hits them hard.

  • VinBick

    Gonzaga coach reaches out to Long Beach State coach for help to beat the Hall.

    “Long Beach State coach Dan Monson had just landed in Seattle and was relieved to learn hotel reservations had been finalized for his team.
    Monson had a lot on his mind, facing a short prep for Tuesday’s NIT date against Washington, but he quickly boiled down Gonzaga’s first-round NCAA tournament matchup with Seton Hall on Thursday.
    “It’s really contrasting styles,” Monson said in a telephone interview. “Two of the best guards against two of the best bigs. Where will the game be played – on the perimeter or on the inside?”
    Monson’s 49ers edged Seton Hall 80-77 on Nov. 19 in the Gildan Charleston (South Carolina) Classic. The 49ers shot 55.4 percent from the field and did a nice job defensively on Pirates’ standout guard Isaiah Whitehead, who scored 21 points but made 7 of 18 shots to go with four assists and four turnovers.
    “It was early on and teams are just forming who they are. They’re obviously a different team now,” said Monson, who went 52-17 in two seasons as Gonzaga’s head coach and guided the 1999 team to the Elite Eight, the first of GU’s 18 consecutive NCAA trips. “They’ve done a great job with that team. Every time I watch them they’ve gotten better and better.”
    “We felt Whitehead was a premier guard in the country. We really tried to get the ball out of his hands as much as possible and force someone else to beat us,” Monson said. “With Carrington, we thought those two were as good of guards as we would see all year.
    “We tried to trap Whitehead anytime he had the ball, on all his ball screens. I remember one time we had him trapped at about 25 feet. He just rose up and shot it and made it. I’m thinking, ‘Maybe we have to go with three guys on him.’ ”
    “We spread them out and we shot the ball well,” Monson said. “Once we did that it opened up for the inside guys. Gonzaga is going to have to make some outside shots because I’m sure they’ll double Sabonis. You have to negate their athleticism by moving the ball and making them guard both sides of the court.”
    Gonzaga’s challenge will be containing dribble penetration, particularly by Whitehead and Carrington.
    “They’re very guard oriented,” Monson said. “The big guys were solid, they make shots with angles, but that’s not how they beat you. They beat you with guards and they’re really aggressive driving the ball.”
    Monson likes Gonzaga’s chances.
    “I might be a little partial,” he said, “but I think it’s a great draw for Gonzaga.””
    PUBLISHED: MARCH 15, 2016, 12:16 A.M. Spokane Newspaper

  • Louie Dee

    Willard on WFAN. Great info.
    Zags are going down!!

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      That was a great interview. Tbh, the more I learn about the Zags, the more nervous I get. They’re efficient offensively and don’t turn the ball over much, which limits the Hall’s chances for transition offense, just like Butler. I think the Pirates will do a good job containing Wiltjer and the big guy, but I worry about their other players knocking down threes. I think that’s the X factor. If those guys miss, and we get run outs, we’ll be fine. But if they knock them down, and it opens up the inside game, it’s going to be a slog.

    • Matty P

      Do you happen to know if they have a replay of the interview?

  • Matty P

    Looks like Gonzaga just got to Denver a half hour ago.
    https://twitter.com/ZagMBB/status/709827592430362624

  • Matty P

    Hope the guys get adjusted to the altitude quickly. In the radio interview with Willard it mentioned that he talked with Pitino on how to deal with the altitude since they’ve played games there in the past. One of his keys was making sure to stay hydrated. It’s also interesting to see that they realized to take some oxygen pumps and that each player will have their own pump. It would also be interesting if Whitehead possibly reached out to either Curry or Stephenson for tips on playing in Denver since they would do it with only a day or 2 of adjustments to the altitude.